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Rangers vs Queen's Park (SFL 3rd) 09/02/2013 KO 15:00 GMT


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Next weekend sees Rangers returning to league action, taking on Queen's Park in what has been billed as the Original Glasgow Derby.

 

Early indications are that Rangers could face a "striking crisis" in the aftermath of the disappointing Cup exit at Tannardice.

 

Fran Sandaza did not appear for the second half of the 3-0 defeat due to a hamstring problem while Kal Naismith was sent off for a wild challenge and faces an automatic one-match ban. Lee McCulloch and Kevin Kyle are both injured, but Ian Black who was also sent off, having been given a second yellow card, will be available because under competition rules, he will now be suspended for Rangers' first Scottish Cup tie of next season.

 

Ally McCoist from Rangers' Official site

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ALLY McCOIST has revealed that Rangers will be stretched when they pick up their league campaign next week but insists they will be ready for the challenge.

The manager is facing the prospect of being without FOUR strikers while centre back Ross Perry is now on the injury list after limping off at Tannadice before half-time in the disappointing 3-0 defeat to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup.

Fran Sandaza was also replaced at half-time due to injury while Kal Naismith’s red card means he is banned from the Ibrox meeting with nearest SFL 3 challengers Queen’s Park.

McCoist has already admitted that poor defending cost his side in the Cup but losing two players at half-time certainly did help matters.

He told RangersTV: “Ross’s hamstring tightened up just before half-time and we felt we had to change him.

“Then Fran said at half-time that he had tightness in his thigh and the doctor said that he would have to come off as well.

“So it definitely hinders you because it means you only have one more substitute and you can’t make it too early in case someone gets injured so it certainly didn’t help us.

“I’m not making excuses because Dundee United deserved to win the game.â€

Naismith, who replaced Sandaza, was dismissed in 85 minutes for a rash challenge on Willo Flood and is suspended next Saturday.

Kevin Kyle seems to have no chance of recovering from his ankle problem in time while Lee McCulloch and now Sandaza must be major doubts leaving McCoist short of options.

Rangers hold a 19-point lead over Queen’s, who do have two games in hand, so winning at Ibrox would surely put the Light Blues out of sight.

McCoist said: “We have a massive game next week against Queen’s Park and at this early stage it is not looking good in terms of personnel especially in forward areas.

“We obviously have longer term injuries to contend with too in terms of Lewis Macleod, for example.

“At this moment we would have to say that McCulloch, Sandaza and Kyle are all massive doubts for next week.

“However, we will have to be ready and we will be. Winning the league campaign is our only focus now.â€

 

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Early team news:

 

Up front:

ANDY LITTLE is set to lead the line for Rangers against Queen’s Park on Saturday as Ally McCoist is missing four recognised strikers.

Little has been utilised on the right side for most of this season but has still produced 16 goals and has a preference to play as the main striker.

Now he looks like getting his wish when Queen’s Park visit Ibrox as Lee McCulloch, Fran Sandaza and Kevin Kyle are all injured while Kal Naismith starts a two-match ban after being sent off at Tannadice last weekend.

McCulloch is still troubled by an ankle problem and has not played since the Elgin game on January 5 while Kyle also has an ankle problem and Sandaza has a thigh problem.

Boss Ally McCoist told RangersTV: “We have a real headache for this weekend’s Queen’s Park as we don’t have a centre forward as such.

“Sandaza, McCulloch and Kyle are all out injured and obviously Naismith – who would have given himself a real opportunity – is suspended for two games.

“So we are short in a few positions right now but especially up front.

“I would say Sandaza is extremely doubtful as is McCulloch because he is still in pain and he hasn’t trained and hasn’t played for a few weeks now.

“We also have a couple of young players out on loan right now with Kane Hemmings at Cowdenbeath and Callum Gallagher at Alloa.

“So the obvious thing would be to move Andy Little into that position and that’s something we will look at.â€

 

And at the back:

 

ALLY McCOIST is set to reshuffle his defence this weekend as he seeks to edge ever closer to the SFL 3 title.

Ross Perry looks like missing against Queen’s Park as a result of a hamstring strain which could mean Chris Hegarty moving into a centre back slot.

And there could also be a recall for Anestis Argyriou who has not featured since the game at Elgin on December 21.

McCoist told RangersTV:  “Ross is struggling and has not been fit enough to train so far this week so he is a serious doubt.

“Chris Hegarty came on for Ross last week and I felt he did fine because he stood up well to Jon Daly and that’s the type of challenge he likes.

“Argyriou will come back into the plans this weekend. As I have said before he works hard and he is a good trainer but has found himself out of the plans.

“Barrie McKay is another one who will be in the plans this weekend – if not starting.â€

McCoist was deeply disappointed with the defending last week as Rangers gave away three bad goals in the Cup at Tannadice and equally annoyed by two red cards at end for Kal Naismith and Ian Black.

He said: “The standard of goal we lost was not good enough and the defending was very poor while the red cards were both needless

“You could argue that Black’s first yellow card was harsh but he has to control himself better as has Kal Naismith

“I don’t think Kal’s challenge wasn’t malicious – it was just mistimed. For me to complain would just gloss over the main issue and that was the quality of defending at the goals.â€

 

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Big crowd anticipated for this one, looks upwards of 45,000 so far.

Would be great to push for 50 odd but I doubt Queens will sell out their allocation, still great number sonce again by Scotlands biggest club.

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Ally McCoist speaking ahead of tomorrow's game:

 

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ALLY McCOIST admits one of his biggest problems personally this season has been managing his own expectations of his Rangers team.

Like many Light Blues fans, the Ibrox boss was disappointed with the way last weekend’s 3-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Dundee United panned out.

He anticipated a better performance from his men, although he has insisted the fixture on Tayside told him nothing about his squad he didn’t already know.

McCoist knows there are times when he has to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, something he has made an effort to do in the time since the loss at Tannadice.

He is in regular contact with his predecessor Walter Smith and legendary Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson.

And having discussed that factor with each man, he is doing his best to remain realistic in the final three months of the season.

With 14 games to go in the Third Division, Gers are 19 points clear of second-top Queen’s Park – who they play tomorrow – having played twice more than the Spiders.

Although McCoist would clearly have liked more success in the cup competitions, he maintains gaining promotion from the bottom tier has always been the main priority.

The 49-year-old said: “There are going to be steps back to take steps forward. For us to get back to where we want to be, it isn’t going to be a giant leap.

“There will be lots of small steps. I don’t find it difficult (to handle criticism) because it absolutely goes with the territory and you expect that. It’s something any manager will get.

“I said right at the start of the season we had to win the league and get out of the division. We’re doing absolutely fine on that front at the moment.

“There are going to be periods throughout the season when we don’t play well or we do and the result goes against us. These things can happen.

“We are no different from anybody else but at the same time, I think it’s an indication of the size of club and the expectancy that we’ll receive criticism when we don’t win.

“If you took a wee step back and looked at the league as it is just now, you’d settle for where we are. Of course you would.

“We’re still getting criticism though which is totally understandable and acceptable. I’ve been at this club long enough to know that happens.

“Two men I talk to who know more about football than I’ll ever know have both said to me a couple of times this season the biggest problem might be managing my own expectations.

“They are very experienced in football and have a greater knowledge and understanding of where we are.

“They know what it is going to take to get us back so they do appreciate that I might have problem with myself.

“It is difficult but sometimes you have to take a step back, watch games again and look at your team, where we are and where we’ve got to go.â€

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I was genuinely in two minds about whether to watch this game or Chelsea vs Wigan. In the end I opted for the Chelsea game, reason being that Rangers pretty much have the Scottish Third Division sown up, whereas for Chelsea Champions League qualification is anything but certain. Having not yet seen a minute of the match, here's the report from the official Rangers site:

 

Rangers 4-0 Queen's Park

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RANGERS extended their lead at the top of the Third Division to 22 points thanks to a third Glasgow derby victory of the season.

After 1-0 and 2-0 wins earlier in the campaign, goals from Ian Black, Dean Shiels and a double from Andy Little earned a 4-0 victory over Queen’s Park at Ibrox.

The visitors came to Govan as the Light Blues’ closest challengers and retain two games in hand. A better result might have given them encouragement that the gap at the top could be narrowed for the late part of the season, but it was never in doubt.

The opening half saw Rangers exert the pressure in the early stage and again close to half time without working the Queens keeper until injury time.

Little had a decent early opening after a neat pass from McKay found Hutton in space and he moved it quickly forward to Little.

The Ulsterman had the pace to get to the box but his finish was high and the chance was gone.

Little was clearly keen to impress through the middle and he combined well with Shiels minutes later but still no breakthrough was achieved.

Shiels came a little closer just shy of the twenty minute mark when he struck the side netting from the edge of the box after a good combination with Hutton.

Rangers seemed to be getting closer to the breakthrough but without a goal the visitors started to come in to the game.

With defensive confidence damaged by the previous week’s disappointment at Tannadice it was clear their remained an edginess in front of Neil Alexander.

The keeper was evidently unhappy with the contributions of his defence as Queens threatened to take the lead.

Rangers weathered the brief flurry from the visitors and almost made that count in the closing minutes of the half.

Cribari hit the post with a header from one of the better delivered set pieces, and Rangers were unlucky to see both Shiels and Templeton denied by a fine double save from Neil Parry in first half stoppage time.

The tempo was still there for the start of the second half as Rangers pressured early on and Hutton forced another smart save from Parry.

Shiels followed up on the rebound but his connection was poor and the ball bounced across the face of goal.

The intent would be rewarded within five minutes however, as the home side this time broke down the left through McKay.

He had options with four players pouring in to the box and he picked out the late run of Black who guided a cushioned volley in to the bottom corner.

The move was a sign that McCoist had encouraged Black, and the rest of the midfield, to play further toward the visitors’ goal.

And there was more evidence for the second goal too. McKay on the left was again the out ball and he got things moving.

A brilliant switch of play saw him pick out Templeton who rolled it in to the path of Hutton. The midfielder might have shot, but instead picked out Shiels.

He was equally unselfish to roll the ball in to Little’s path for the simplest of finishes.

That selflessness from Shiels was rewarded when he tucked home the third with a similarly straightforward chance thanks to Wallace’s cutback.

Wallace was again at his consistent best of the left and would have been bemused by the decision of referee George Salmond to ignore Aidan Connolly’s blatant foul on him late in the match.

A second yellow for the midfielder seemed inevitable when he leapt in on the touchline but Salmond opted to allow play to continue.

There remained time for Rangers to add a little gloss, and it was a pleasing end for Andy Little as he added a second and took his season tally to 18.

Rangers: Alexander; Argyriou, Hegarty, Cribari, Wallace; Hutton, Black; McKay (Aird 73), Shiels (Crawford 80), Templeton; Little.

Subs: Gallacher, Faure, Mitchell.

Goals: Black (50), Little (63, 89), Shiels (78)

Bookings: Templeton, Argyriou

Queen's Park: Parry, Little, Robertson, Keenan (Burns 69), Brough, McPartland, Connolly, Anderson, Longworth, Quinn (Shankland 90), Spittal (Urquhart 59).

Subs: Lochhead, Bradley.

Bookings: Connolly, Robertson, McPartland.

Referee: George Salmond

Attendance: 46,104

 

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